Centennial Park is a Sydney jewel â a haven of beauty, recreation and aspiration in the very heart of a pulsating city. Concert goers, cyclists, artists, cricketers, picnickers, horse riders, conversationalists, bird watchers, sun bathers, sky gazers â and runners â flock to the park to celebrate nature, humanity, community â and life.
The final race of the Sri Chinmoy Sydney Series 2009 â offering the choice of a Half-Marathon, 7 km or 4 km run â was run over tracks and trails within Centennial Park on Sunday 22 November. With a forecast of 39 degrees, aid stations were equipped with additional water and runners came prepared for a hot day at the office.
The course comprises a smaller loop for the 4 km, and a larger loop for the 7 km event. The Half-Marathon completes three laps of the 7 km loop, which winds amongst tree-lined trails, ponds, open fields and the perimeter trail of this vast park.
Due to significant heavy vehicle presence associated with the bump-out from a large polo event the previous day, one section of the original course was replaced with a meandering jaunt betwixt the thick vegetation of Snake Bank, adding a degree of adventure and about 100 metres to the length of each loop.
The Half-Marathon saw a stellar run from Matt Janes (right), smashing the course record by 5 minutes and winning the race by 11 minutes. Running solo from the outset, Matt's 1:12:28 over a challenging cross-country course under very hot conditions showed the finest elements of running â courage, focus, determination and grace.
Meanwhile Dave Barr (left) and Scott Milson had a decent battle for second, crossing the line in 1:23:16 and 1:23:35 respectively. Gregory Scott took the Men 50-59 category in 1:29:47.
Lizzy Hall was surprised to find she had won the women's Half-Marathon in 1:37:33, having run behind Laura James the whole race. Unfortunately for Laura, while following another athlete she inadvertently missed one turn and so did not run quite the official course so her time could not be recognised despite her fine effort. Kate Gustafson finished second amongst the women in 1:42:56.
First home in the 7 km was an outstanding run from Dennis Wylie, setting a new course best time of 26:43 for the Men 50-59 category. Max Delacy (27:00) and Scott Stefl (27:15) were not far behind, leading home the Men Under 50. Gerard Tupin, visiting from France, won the Men 60-69 category in a fine 32:08, while Edward McMaster established a new course record for the Men 70+ with his 45:38.
A tight race in the Women's 7 km was won by Myree McCosh in 31:43, from Liliane Peroton (31:49) and Sue Stedman (31:54). Sylvia Nichols continued her wonderful running form with 36:09 to take out the Women 50-59 category.
The 4 km women's race saw Jennifer Stevens (right) exactly equalling the course record of 16:36, set one year ago by Larissa Tichon. Amanda Perez was first girl under 17 in 29:00, while Catherine Barlin won the girls under 13 category in 19:48.
Daniel White was first boy under 13 home in 16:51, placing him 3rd male outright behind Nathan Barry (14:21) and Davor Zailac (16:25). Ricci Stavropoulos took the boys under 17 category in 33:45.
Full results are published along with an extensive dynamic photo album from the morning's action.
Organisers and runners are most grateful to Peggy Huang of Sports Medicine Australia for her invaluable service, and to the staff and rangers of the Centennial Parklands Trust for their kind assistance and cooperation in the staging of this event.